Before you learn how to look up a license plate number, it is important to understand how license plates work. Every state will usually assign a unique identifier to each vehicle that is registered at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), with each license plate assigned a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols.
Also, the registered car owner will usually be able to choose their own license plate number, hence the term “vanity plates.” In this respect, it is important to keep in mind that no two vehicles in the same state can have the same license plate number, as the government will use license plates to locate and identify someone from their plate number.
And while two license plates can be similar with small differences, they cannot be identical, with the only exception being that it is possible to see the same license plate in a separate state.
Scenarios When You Would Need To Look Up a License Plate Number
#1. Involved In A Hit-and-Run
If you are looking to track down someone that was involved in a hit-and-run, one of the easiest ways to go about this is to get their license plate number and use a VIN check service like VinPit to track down their information, as it would make it easier for the police to quickly track them.
#2. Victim Of Road Rage
If you suddenly find yourself a victim of road rage, there is a high chance that you will want to confront the vehicle owner. And much like a hit-and-run incident, you can often use the license plate number to gather any useful information you can on them before heading out to report them to the authorities.
#3. Investigate A Suspicious Vehicle
There may come a time when you can’t help but be suspicious about a certain vehicle that may be parked outside your home or workplace, for example. And in such situations, out of concern for your safety and the safety of those around you, you can opt to conduct a license plate search to investigate the owner of the vehicle in order to prevent the risk of a theft or a criminal roaming around in your vicinity.
#4. Increase Bargaining Power
If you are planning on purchasing a used vehicle, then it is often a good idea to make sure that you know everything that you need to know about its condition. For instance, has the mileage been rolled back? Does the car still have an active lien? Was the vehicle ever recalled in the past? These are some important questions that you should know the answers to before you come up with a final decision on whether or not the vehicle is worth purchasing.
What Information Can You Get with a License Plate Search?
Every vehicle’s license plate number is linked to its registration with the state’s DMV. And while federal laws will typically end up limiting the records that a public citizen can legally access, some of that information will usually be accessible in public record databases.
In this respect, you can gather a whole wealth of information about the car, like the make, model, year, fuel efficiency, accident history, maintenance history, mileage, warranty information, and more.
And if you utilize a good license lookup tool like VinPit, you will be able to access even more in-depth details like the registered owner’s personal information, e.g., name, phone, address, email, driving records, etc. And the best thing about using such a service is that you can also conduct a search from anywhere, as long as you have internet access.
How To Conduct A License Plate Lookup?
One of the main ways that you can perform a license plate lookup is by visiting the local DMV office. If you have the full license plate number, they will be able to easily look up the registered owner’s information.
However, the downside of using the DMV is that, due to privacy laws, it is unlikely that they are going to willingly provide you with the driver’s personal information. Furthermore, they are very likely to charge you a fee for any information on the vehicle in question.
Instead, a better alternative is to use a third-party service like VinPit that will instantly provide you with all the information that you need. You will only need to key in the license plate number in the search engine, pick the relevant state, and click on “Start Search.”
Within minutes, you will be able to browse any vehicle’s performance and inspection histories, sales records, safety ratings, warranty records, and more. And the best part about this option is that not only are the results accurate, but you are also not obligated to pay any money for the information either.
There is a multitude of reasons why you would want or need to lookup a license plate number, but whatever the reason may be, it is important to keep in mind that the Driver Privacy Protection Act should be taken seriously, as only those with a legitimate reason are legally allowed to gather personal information on a car owner.
You should also consider the fact that not every state has the same justifications for finding out who owns a car. However, the good news is that the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) makes vehicle records public domain, which means that you can freely access this information as long as you remain in compliance with local, state, and federal regulations.
In other words, it’s completely illegal to use any information that you collect in a vehicle owner search to stalk or harass anyone. As such, you should always make sure that you remain responsible for such information, should you end up acquiring it.